Dozens, hundreds pass by here every day; walkers, joggers, cyclists. Few, if any, spare the old concrete structure– or what remains of it – a second glance. It is the platform of the Blanches Banques station on the former Jersey Western Railway.
One of the best decisions of the States of Jersey was to purchase the land on which the St Aubin – Corbière section of the line ran, some 3 ½ miles, and turn it into what is known as the Railway Walk. A planting programme was commenced and the results can be seen today. Those pines you see on the track side of the platform were planted after WW2 and the Occupation of Jersey.
The station existed primarily to service the patrons of La Moye Golf Club which lies alongside the Railway Walk. However it also proved very useful for a few years during WW1. Down on the sand dunes stood a state-of-the-art prisoner of war camp housing German soldiers. Many worked at the docks in St Helier but also there was no catering block at the camp. There was therefore a regular procession of prisoners and their guards up from the dunes, onto special trains, and back again later. It must have been a profitable contract for the railway company while it lasted.
Now a ‘before and after’ of the station at the end of the line, Corbiere. The first was taken in 1949, the second this morning. Traditionalists have grumbled about the modern extension but I say it’s a great way to incorporate history into a modern design, the alternative probably letting the property deteriorate. What say you?
The last train ran in 1936 though the occupying Germans re-laid the line when they arrived – it was quickly ripped up once they had gone. Today the Railway Walk is a pleasant and popular amenity but with plenty of tales to tell.